Japan's Emerging Security Partnerships
Since his inauguration, Prime Minister Abe's determination to expand Japan's diplomatic presence around the world is reflected in the "diplomacy that takes panoramic view of the world map" (chikyuugi wo fukan suru gaiko) initiative. Actively engaging in top-level diplomacy to foster relationships that have grown stagnant in recent years, Abe has especially focused on Europe and Australia. Abe visited Europe in both April/May and June, meeting with NATO and EU country leaders to further Japan's partnership with European countries. Abe described NATO and Japan as "natural partners," and increasing security cooperation was a main focus of his visits in Europe. With Australia, Prime Minister Tony Abbott called Japan Australia's "closest friend in Asia" last October, supporting Japan's defense efforts. In July, Abe visited Australia and signed an agreement regarding the transfer of defense equipment and technology. News reports have suggested that Australia is close to purchasing several Japanese Soryu-class stealth submarines, and Japan may also share previously sensitive submarine technology with Australia. As Abe is likely to continue pursuing relations with Europe and Australia, Dr. Tomohiko Satake remarked on prospects for US-Japan-Australia security relations and Dr. Michito Tsuruoka on Japan-NATO.